Political talks resume in Venezuela on November 26th

CARACAS, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Venezuela’s government and opposition will resume political talks on November 26 after more than a year in Mexico, Norway’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Norway, which is moderating the talks, announced on Twitter the parties would sign a “partial agreement on social affairs”.

The talks could help pave the way for an easing of US oil sanctions on the OPEC nation, help ease its long-standing political and economic crises, and open the door for Washington to expand Chevron Corp’s operations in the US to clarify country.

Earlier talks were suspended in October 2021 by President Nicolas Maduro’s government, angered by the US extradition of a businessman with ties to his government.

Talks in host country Mexico are expected to include a “social plan” to provide around $3 billion in humanitarian aid from UN-managed funds, as well as US sanctions on Venezuela, presidential elections and the status of hundreds of political prisoners.

“We are convinced that this social agreement will open the doors to advance the broad agenda of national dialogue and fulfill all its goals for the good of our country,” Jorge Rodriguez, president of the ruling party-dominated National Assembly, said in a written statement shortly afterwards announcement.

US State Department official Brian Nichols welcomed the return to dialogue between the parties.

“We hope they will work towards alleviating the humanitarian challenges faced by Venezuelans and holding free and fair elections,” he said on Twitter.

Renewed political dialogue in Venezuela has been repeatedly delayed due to disagreements over the terms, particularly those related to elections, and the source of funds for the social plan, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Commenting on the news during his regular press conference on Thursday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he was grateful that both sides have confidence in Mexico to lead the talks.

“The idea is that we don’t act in a leading role. What we want is that there is understanding so that we can move forward and achieve peace and tranquility and that there are agreements between the parties,” he said.

The United States is preparing an extended license for oil company Chevron’s activities in Venezuela if the meeting between the Venezuelan government and the opposition takes place, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter.

Chevron is expected to receive approval from Washington on Saturday to expand its operations in Venezuela. The permit would allow it to produce and export crude oil, the source added.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera, Deisy Buitrago and Mayela Armas in Caracas, Terje Solsvik in Oslo and Diego Ore and Brendan O’Boyle in Mexico City. Writing by Steven Grattan. Edited by Brad Haynes and Sandra Painter

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